Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"Boundaries" by Cloud and Townsend part 2

I finished "Boundaries" today. I liked the book as a whole - the main message had to do with being responsible for your own choices, rather than being out-of-control, or constantly manipulated. I don't think it was a flawless book - I disagree with their interpretation of "reaping and sowing", and I felt that they spent the majority of time talking about the problem and very little time talking about the solution. So, when reading it you are left with an impression about where you have problems with boundaries, but not necessarily an action plan for change.

Section 2 of the book is called "Boundary Conflicts"
In this section he goes through certain types of relationships and what boundary problems would look like in those relationships. He talks specifically about: family of origin, friends, spouse, children, work, God (blaming God for things that are not His responsibility or doing), and self (for the out-of-control undisciplined person).

Family of origin - In this section he describes adults who are chronically immature, have trouble finding a job, trouble with finances, choose "black sheep" friends, yet enjoy a very loving family of origin. He says that adults in this situation need to leave the nest and begin taking responsibility for their own choices. They need to refuse illegitimate help from their parents which keeps them from emotionally leaving home. They also need to avoid "Triangulation" - which is the failure to resolve conflict between two persons without bringing in another family member to take sides. In rare cases an irresponsible sibling will sometimes lean on the responsible sibling to avoid leaving home and being an independant adult.

Friendships - In this section he talked about friends manipulating each other and complying because of guilt - but then resenting their friend and withdrawing. Those sorts of things will leave a trail of broken friendships. In order to be in a healthy friendship - we will sometimes disagree, but we will honestly discuss things.

Spouse - This section was long. He talked about not using passive-aggressive withdraw, but rather being clear and verbal about your goals - also keeping in mind that you may need to negotiate some to reach a happy compromise. Another point he makes throughout all the sections is that unforgiveness is a lack of boundaries. Refusing to forgive leaves you controlled by someone else, whereas forgiveness brings you the freedom to be responsible.

Children - In this section he talks about controlling and permissive parents. The answer for both is the same: lay out a boundary to your child along with the consequences and then let them choose if they want to obey or disobey. If they disobey, you must let them face the consequences. This is the only way kids will learn that their choices matter. For example, saying "You need to clean your room today, or there won't be any T.V." is good. Then, let the child choose to either clean their room or not. But if they don't clean it, and then they try to watch T.V. - you have to stick to your guns, and say "You will be able to watch T.V. after your room gets cleaned." They say that parents should raise their children to ultimately hold convictions such as: "My success or failure in life depends a good deal on me. Though I am to look to others for comfort and instruction, I alone am responsible for my choices. Though I am deeply affected by significant relationships, I can't blame my problems on others. Though I will always fail, I cannot depend on some overresponsible individual to constantly bail me out of spiritual, relational, or financial crises." (p. 178) They also emphasize that we always show unconditional love while setting limits.

Work - In this section, they advise workaholics (who work too much due to guilt and pressure) and those who resent their jobs, and those who can't seem to find any job that is "them". The point is that we can have crappy jobs without letting it control our lives or emotions, or we can take responsible actions to search for a better job.

Self - In this section he talks about people who don't take care of themselves, who overeat or fail to get proper sleep. And he puts it into a framework of boundaries - saying we need to take more ownership and set limits with ourselves as well.

God - In this section, he talks about human agency - the fact that there are certain things that God gives us to do. Also, he writes that we shouldn't blame God for what He didn't do; but that we should educate ourselves about God through the Word.

The final section is about the solution to boundaries. It wasn't that satisfying in my opinion. He did have some good stuff about not being a victim. For example, if you get guilted into doing something - that is your problem, not the guilt-tripper person's problem. They write this about being a victim: "People tend to look outside of themselves for the problem. This external perspective keeps you the victim. It says that you can never be okay until someone else changes. That is the essence of powerless blame. It may make you morally superior (in your own thinking, never in reality), but it will never fix the problem. Responsibility begins with an internal focus of confession and repentance." (p.264) He also talks about how we need the support of healthy Christian relationships and obviously the help of God too.

Monday, October 18, 2010

"Mom's Everything Book for Daughters" by: Becky Freeman

Ok, so I never finished writing a review for the "Boundaries" book and started reading another book. It's the sanguine in me. But, I will eventually write the part 2 review for the "Boundaries" book.

This new book I'm reading is for a very specific audience - moms with daughters. It's a REALLY good book so far - the sort of book I find to be very helpful. Full of genuine, frank, diverse advice for moms. It's not preachy or full of fluff. The things she writes about are right-on and she gives lots of inspiring ideas too. Sure, she's more traditional than your typical Xenos mom, but that's true of any Christian parenting book. You can take some of the Christian-culture things with a grain of salt. The thing I really love so far is that one page will have facts about eating disorders and then the next page will have a box filled with classic mom-daughter movie choices. It is exactly that sort of thing that will inspire a mom to have good quality interactions with her daughter.

"You will probably be surprised one day when you ask your daughter what she remembers most about your times together. Most often it isn't the grand, planned, mother-daughter occasions - but the small kindnesses, the little notes on her pillow or in her lunch box, the "folding laundry and watching a video" times of coziness and warmth and fun." - p.20

If you are a mother of a daughter aged 5-15, you should probably buy this book and look at it occasionally. I rented this copy from the library - but, I plan on buying a copy to keep. I'll write a longer review when I finish it - it's possible that the book will go downhill from here and if that's the case, I'll let y'all know.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Boundaries - by Cloud and Townsend

I've been reading through this new book - and I'm very intrigued. But, I'm not finished with it yet - only about 1/3 of the way through - so, I'll have to hold off final judgment for now. I'll send out a "part 2" review of the rest of the book at a later date.

The sub-title of the book is: Boundaries: When to Say YES, When to Say NO, To Take Control of Your Life. And while the idea of looking into "when to say yes, when to say no" is very interesting to me, (a person who says "yes" too often) the "take control of your life" makes me cynical : uh-oh. here-comes-a-counselor-with-a-bunch-of-fluff. And, I have to say - so far this book does need to be taken with a grain of salt (doesn't everything?). He has really got on a soapbox preaching about "reaping what you sow" - which I think he misinterprets and mis-applies. And sometimes the authors sound like an after-school special. But some of the ideas here are very interesting, and my curiosity is peaked.

The authors start off with an example of a working mom who gets bullied by her boss, manipulated her mom, neglected by her husband, even taken for granted by her kids. She will go along with what they want, but then silent resentment and alienation will grow over time.

Then the authors attempt to define boundaries and discuss the reasons why people may struggle to be healthy in this area. Limiting time is a type of boundary. As the authors say, "What we can do is set limits on our own exposure to people who are behaving poorly; we can't change them or make them behave right." p.43 Telling someone that we won't spend a lot of time with them is an example of setting a boundary; whereas if we let that person manipulate us into spending a lot of time together, we would be guilty of poor boundaries.

They give another example for a person who may struggle with saying "no" too often. They write, "Many people do not take ownership for how they resist love. They have love around them, but do not realize that their loneliness is a result of their own lack of responsiveness. Often they will say 'Others' love can not 'get in'. This statement negates their responsibility to respond." p.48

They discuss parental boundaries too. For example: "Good parents have fun with their toddlers who jump on the bed. Poor parents either quench their children's desire by not allowing any jumping, or they set no limits and allow them to jump all over Mom and Dad's orange juice and coffee." p.69 That is a great short example of what the authors are talking about - the poor parents in this sentence either say "No" too much, or "Yes" too much.

The main point being made so far in this book is that we should not be passive and go with the flow that
is set by someone else. Instead we should take responsibility for our own actions (or lack thereof). As Christians we are called to follow God's will and love others; but we are not called to be passive pawn-pieces - God wants us to have some responsibility and take some action. It's important to have a good grasp on the doctrine of human agency for this book - without grace and dependence on God, we are a branch without a Vine. But, understood properly, human agency is biblical and within God's plan for us. Someday, we will be accountable for our own actions and we won't be able to blame others for what we did or did not do. As Christians, this is not about self-enpowerment - but something deeper; an active walk with God. As the authors write:
 "Consider the parable of the talents. The ones who succeeded were active and assertive. They initiated and pushed. The one who lost out was passive and inactive. The sad thing is that many people who are passive are not evil. But evil is an active force, and passivity can become an ally of evil by not pushing against it. Passivity never pays off. God wants us to be active, seeking and knocking. We know that God is not mean to people who are afraid; the Scripture is full of examples of His compassion. But He will not enable passivity. The "wicked and lazy" servant was passive. He did not try. God's grace covers failure, but it cannot make up for passivity. We have to do our part. The sin God rebukes is not trying and failing, but failing to try. Trying, failing, and trying again is called learning. Failing to try will have no good result; evil will triumph." pp.99-100

Something that helped me recently on this topic is this passage: " 22Blessed are you when men hate you,
      when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.  23"Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets. 26Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets." from Luke 6. It sucks when we have to do the right thing and have people hate us for it; but it is our fear of other people's opinions that will cause us to have poor boundaries - which is way more messy and painful in the long run.

Friday, October 1, 2010

CG notes - Intro to the King

this is the final paper i had from the other night - the class notes themselves.

Challenge Group ’10- ’11 The Life of the King
Introduction of the King

1.      Introduction to our study
-         Why Study Christ?
a.     Every Heresy denies Christ. Christ is even controversial within “Christian” churches. 1 John makes it clear that people who want to be in with God need to have a proper outlook on Christ.
b.    Christ is who we aspire to relate with and become like (2 Cor. 3:17-18)
c.     Christ is the earthly representation of God – part of His role is to show us God’s character/relational pattern/wisdom/ etc.. in a way we can better comprehend. (Jn. 1)
d.     Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King ministers to every part of our souls. Christ the Prophet (truth-teller) ministers to our minds as we see the truth; Christ the High Priest (intercessor) ministers to our hearts as we realize our acceptance; and Christ the King (sovereign) ministers to our wills as we see He is worthy of our submission.
e.     Christ offers a “new and living way” of living a spiritual life on earth. (sidewalk example/ vitamin example – take in/ assimilate)
f.       Also, Christ is the crux of our whole belief, salvation, eternity, sanctification, ministry “fruit”, and anything we study in the Bible plays a part in pointing to Christ. He is the Ultimate.
-         Our study
2.    Map/Timeline/Resources/Homework
3.    Christology
-         Fully Human = Heb. 2:14-18, 1 Tim. 2:5, Jn. 8:40, Rm. 5:12-19
-                   Importance = Mediation/ Death
-         Sinless Humanity = 2 Cor. 5:21, Heb 4:15, 1 Jn. 3:5, Heb. 7:26-28
-                   Importance = Substitution/ Sacrifice
-         Full Deity = Col. 2:9, Rm. 9:5, Jn. 1:1-10, 30; Heb. 1:10-12, Jn. 1:18, Heb. 1:1-3, Heb. 10:10-12
-                   Importance = Paying for an infinite amount of sin;    
                        Revealing God to us.
-         Kenosis = Mt. 24:36, Mk. 6:5, Jn. 4:4, Heb. 4:15, 9:14, Jn. 5:30, 1 Cor. 15:3, Php 2:6-7, Jn. 14:10, 15:9, 14:28, Acts 2:22, 10:38, Heb. 2:17, 1 Cor. 15:21, Jn. 14:10-17
-                   Definition: At the incarnation, Christ gave up not only the environment of the Godhead and His position as Ruler, but also the use of His Divine attributes.
-                   Importance = Jesus can sympathize with us, and shows us an example of a life led in dependence on the Holy Spirit. Jesus made real sacrifices for us; not only on the cross – but even before that.
-         3-Fold Office of Prophet, Priest, King = Jn. 1:1-18, Rev. 22:3, Jn. 17:4, 14:24, Acts 2:22, Mk. 6:14, Lk. 4:43, Mt. 19:16-26, Isa. 9:6, Deut 18:15, Jn. 20:26-28, Lk. 7:16, 24:19, Heb. 4:14
-                   Importance = Fulfills prophecy and typology of the OT. Ministers to our needs as truth-teller, intercessor, and ruler. Defeated Satan, death, slavery to sin, and deception with His truth, love, and authority.
-         Pre-Existence =
-                    Importance = not a demigod.  He had true authority and infinity. Jesus being a Deity is something we cannot bend our beliefs about.
-         Salvation and Resurrection =
-                    Importance = Nothing matters without this.
-         2nd Coming and Role in Eschatology =
-                    Importance = This world is not in order currently; things will be made right in the future. Jesus still has an important role to play. He is not just a sacrificial Lamb; but also a living King with a Kingdom.
4.    History/ Background
-         OT ends during the Persian kingdom; that was a time of re-building and general peace
-         Then Alexander the Great defeated the Persians and as he marched into the city of Jerusalem was welcomed to read the Law and Prophets and see prophecies about himself within them. He left Israel in relative peace also.
-         When Alexander died young, the kingdom was divided into 4 quadrants under his 4 generals. The Ptolemys of Egypt ruled over Israel. They lived in harmony with each other; this is when the Septuagint (LXX) was written.
-         Then the northern kings in Syria began to take control of Israel – they were not as kind. One of the Syrian kings was Antiochus Epiphanies who desecrated the temple (by slaughtering a pig on the altar) and killed 40,000 people in the city of Jerusalem. The Syrian kings began religious persecution of the Jews, and eventually made Judaism illegal as they were trying to assimilate them into the Greek culture (Hellenizing) During this time, the Jews began to rely more on town synagogues and lawyers (teachers of the Law) and Pharisees.
-         The Maccabean Revolt took place led by Mattathias and his family. They were tired of the years of oppression and the lack of religious freedom. Members of Mattathias’ family went on to begin the sect of the Saducees.
-         Pompey of Rome took control of Israel around 60 years before Jesus was born (63 BCE) He gave control of Israel to a wealthy Edomite/ “Idumaean” officer who found favor with Pompey. Also, the Sanhedrin was set up at this time.
-         The Edomite/ “Idumaean” ruler of Israel had 2 sons; one of whom was Herod the Great. This is likely the king who was ruling at the time of Jesus’ birth.
-         After Herod the Great died; Israel was divided up into 3 tetrarchies. Archelaus was tetrarch of Judea, Herod Antipas was tetrarch of Galilee and Perea, and Herod Philip was tetrarch of Trachonitis, Aurtanitus, and Batanea.
-         Archelaus was unpopular and ended up being banished in 6 CE. He was succeeded by a string of Roman proconsuls, the 5th of whom was Pontius Pilate. After Jesus’ death, Pilate was later banished to Gaul and ended up committing suicide in 36 CE.
-         In 37 CE Caligula made Agrippa I king of first the area that Herod Philip had, and later the area of Galilee and Perea.
-         In 44 CE, Caligula reversed his policy of having a puppet-king, and reverted back to using proconsuls. Two of these are mentioned in Acts 23-27 = Felix and Festus.
5.     Birth
     - Born of a virgin (Genealogy)
     - Shepherds and manger in Bethlehem
     - Circumcision and naming (8th day)
     - Redemption of firstborn and purification of the mother (1 month old. Num. 18:15-16; Lev. 12:1-4, 8) Simeon and Anna meet Jesus and speak (Lk. 2:25-38)
     - Visit of the Magi in a house in the city of Bethlehem (Mt. 2:11; also Herod’s edict about children 2 years old and younger means that this was likely at the time Jesus was around 1 year old)
     - Flight to Egypt
     - Return to Nazareth
     - Education
     - At age 12, he was attending feasts in Jerusalem

Discussion = Why is not much written about Jesus’ boyhood? What things about Christ have stood out to you and taught you something about yourselves?